Now You See It, Now You Don’t: Why Blacks in the National Guard Should Know About its Alleged Jim Crow Evaluation System

My Jim Crow situation happened while I was in the California Air National Guard. I did not know it at the time, but my employer maintained a Jim Crow evaluation policy. I alleged in federal court the Guards evaluation policy had an adverse impact on me and others like me. I discovered the Jim Crow evaluation system online while researching the National Guards Dual-Status-Technician (DST) program.

It all begin back in 2009 when I constructively discharged from the California Air National Guard and walked directly into federal court. I threw lots of antiquated compensation and benefits policies on the record, which looked like they hadn’t been updated since the 70’s, probably around the time President George W. Bush was in the Texas National Guard. I threw the documents on the record in anger, because I felt tricked into joining the military. In order to be eligible for dual employment in the Guard you had to join the military first. After, I joined the military, getting a full-time leadership position seemed impossible. This led me to feel I was being discriminated against because of my skin color.

I filed my discrimination complaint with the National Guard in 2008 and then in federal court in 2009. The federal courts decided my discrimination claim was barred by its own policy, the Feres Doctrine.

In my opinion, The Feres Doctrine was not the law. With that said, I believed at the start of litigation I was going to write a book about my journey to the United States Supreme Court. I believed that other blacks needed to know about the National Guards alleged discriminatory evaluation system, allegations it attempted to cover it up and the sanction I requested for failure to preserve it.

In June 2005, Steven Blum, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, an appointee of President George W. Bush published the National Guard performance evaluation policy. Later, in November 2009 Blum’s evaluation policy disappeared. It was an active policy during the time I was in the Guard and when I filed my federal complaint. It was like my evidence to prove the National Guards Jim Crow Evaluation System existed, was gone.

What happened was, in 2009, the National Guard Bureau published a new performance evaluation policy which did not reference Blum’s version as its last revision. The Guards new 2009 evaluation policy read as if the only prior revision to its’ National Guard Technician Performance policy was published in 1997. The 2009 evaluation policy was inaccurate and therefore misleading, and I alleged that as much during litigation. To prove my point, the Guard’s 1997, 2005 and 2009 evaluation policies with court markings are provided at the back of my memoir. In my appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals I submitted policies from several states who supplemented Blum’s 2005 policy.

The only thing I could do during litigation is observe, write and preserve the National Guard Jim Crow evaluation system and write about it in my memoir. I felt it was just wrong on so many levels to deny review of my discrimination claim, and then destroy a policy that would substantiate my complaint about my experiencing under the dual-status program.

In early June 1864, Private Sylvester Ray of the 2d U.S. Colored Cavalry was recommended for trial because he refused to accept pay inferior to that of white soldiers. Later that month, Congress granted equal pay to the U.S. Colored troops and made the action retroactive. The treatment of African American in the military regarding their compensation has changed very little. In 2014, the National Guard changed the law, it inserted language into the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that amended the National Guard Technicians Act, by ordering any wrongful discrimination claim brought by a dual-status technician to be considered a complaint made by a member of the armed forces, thereby expanding the scope of the Feres Doctrine in one fell swoop and making itself the sole arbiter of any and all wrongful discrimination claims.

The Guard did not keep a record of Blum’s discriminatory evaluation policy before it changed its own laws, but I did. It did not take any corrective actions to acknowledge and compensate anyone who may have been adversely affected by its evaluation policy during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Instead, the National Guard used an inside policy within the federal courts, the Feres Doctrine (the Feres Doctrine is not the law), to delay, deny and destroy financial records pertaining to its dual-status program, then it changed the law. Backward, I know. Normally, the law changes first, but in my case, the Guard barred my discrimination claim first, then changed the law. I guess you live and learn.

“Still Waiting”, is a powerful memoir about one woman’s fight for justice from the California National Guard. In her memoir, Janetra Johnson chronicles a time in the National Guard in which there were two major document scandals surrounding President George W. Bush performance. In the book, Janetra connects the dots between the financial scandals in the Texas and California National Guard, the two largest Guard states in the United States, and its whistleblowers. “Still Waiting”, is an eBook written by Janetra as she waits for the veteran’s benefits she feels is owed to her.

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